Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! So we are told, even actually commanded, to delight ourselves in the Lord, to rejoice in the Lord always. Our Christian walk is full of decisions to choose what is right, but duty without delight can lead to hypocrisy. We are told to not only give, for example, but to be a cheerful giver. How can we command joy?
By looking at the Psalms, we understand that God is not put off by our honesty; He responds to it. David was always quick to pour out his heart to God. In Jeremiah 29:13, God tells us this about relating to Him, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." And we see David doing that again and again. Psalm 51 was written after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed. He cries out to God, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." And he goes on to pray, "Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." And then he goes still further in his prayer, "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Interesting, isn't it, that sometimes we have to be broken in order to find real joy. Our joy is not just laughs we muster up to put on a show for others which become "the tears of a clown when no one's around." Our joy comes from heartfelt surrender and separation from whatever it is that's stealing our joy. As we have made mention of recently, Psalm 16:11 reminds us where we find joy--in the presence of the Lord. And when we distance ourselves from Him, our joy wanes. Yes, as David recognized, joy comes from God Himself. In our lives, it is the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Real fruit only comes from the True Vine. And in the vine, it is found in abundance.
Have you seen the video on youtube of the little girl in the choir dancing to the song, "There Ain't Nothin' Gonna Steal My Joy?" Check it out!